Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is one of the most diagnosed clinical forms of depression, but there are some ways to fight Seasonal Effective Disorder so you don’t have to suffer. Due to less exposure to sunlight, our most natural form of Vitamin D, we're more prone to developing depression. Vitamin D enhances serotonin production in the brain, which makes us happy, and it is best absorbed from the sun than any other source. With less sunlight in the winter, we're already coming up short of our natural Vitamin D exposure. We’re also stuck indoors more due to cold weather, and less likely to exercise. Exercise also offers the body anti-depressant benefits by increasing serotonin in the brain. Luckily, you don’t have to move to Florida to get your Vitamin D in the winter, or spend all your waking hours exercising to fight this issue. Find out my favorite ways to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder and hopefully, they'll work for you too!
1. Get up Early
The first thing I advise to do in finding ways to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder is to get up early. The sun rises around 7 each morning, and if you’re up as soon as daylight hits, that means you’re exposed to more light throughout the day. Since it starts getting dark between 5 p.m and 5:30 p.m. this time of year, every little bit of Vitamin D exposure helps, even if you’re indoors.
2. Get Moving
Even though you don’t have to spend all day exercising, you should still do some form of exercise each day. I choose to walk or jog for a total of 40-45 minutes each day, and do yoga. Pick what works for you. If that’s a gym, great, but if you’re stuck indoors like me at home, find something that works. Walking around your neighborhood, block, or office for 30-40 minutes is also great! Do what you can with where you are, with what you have. Moving increases serotonin in the body,helps fight stress, and prevents overeating due to boredom, a sluggish metabolism, and increases your heart health. Just do it!
3. Eat Well
Your body can’t be in good shape, nor can your brain think clearly if you’re not eating well. Sugar, trans fats, processed foods and fake foods will not make you feel good. Fast food and junk food need to go, and start eating more real, whole foods instead. These foods naturally make you feel amazing, and they won’t cause depression like the foods above will. When you eat junk, you feel like junk, which contributes to more depression, less exercise, and eventually, more eating junk. Get out of the cycle ASAP.
4. Go to Bed Early
The great thing about it getting dark earlier is you have no excuse not to get a good night’s rest. Go to bed whatever time you need to in order to get 8 hours rest and wake up when sunlight starts. Enough sleep promotes serotonin in the body, that healthy hormone that makes you happy, and sleep is one of the best ways to fight depression, obesity and anxiety. Just don’t sleep past 9 hours or you might feel worse than better. Just enough is perfect for fighting SAD.
5. Eat Fish
Fish is often eaten in Alaska to promote healthy brain function, due to lack of sunlight the people are exposed to there. It’s rich in Vitamin D, and also rich in Omega 3 fats that naturally fight depression. Eat wild fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, and trout three times a week. You’ll feel much better in no time, and as a bonus, it’s a natural beauty aid to fight wrinkles and acne.
6. Vitamin D
If you don’t like fish, eat omega 3 rich eggs or hemp seeds. Since fish is the best food source of Vitamin D you can eat, if you don’t like it, be sure to supplement with a Vitamin D supplement of at least 5,000 I U. Even if you eat fish, I’d still take a Vitamin D supplement on the side anyway. They help fight everything from depression, to colon cancer, and also increase calcium absorption in the body to prevent osteoporosis.
7. Avoid Sugar
Sugar actually destroys brain cells, increases toxicity in the liver, and promotes depression, despite the high it gives you at first. Avoid it however you can, and your mood will do a complete 180. Eat more healthy fats, more veggies and more lean protein. In just one week, you’ll feel like a new person! Instead of sugar, implement more healthy fats in your diet, preferably from coconut oil, butter or shreds ( unsweetened). These have a naturally sweet taste to them, and help ward off sugar cravings, depression, fight weight gain, and they all give you tons of energy. I take 2 tbsp. per day of coconut butter and feel amazing. My metabolism is also the best it’s been in years!
8. Eat Healthy Carbs
Whatever you do, when you avoid sugar, don’t avoid all carbs. You’ll get depressed quickly, and you might lose weight, but over time, your metabolism will slow. Instead, eat complex carbs with lean protein to stabilize your blood sugar. Try whole rolled oats with egg whites, or Greek yogurt, or have a sweet potato with nonfat Greek yogurt. A piece of fish with winter squash or sweet potato, or even quinoa with veggies is also a great idea. So long as you keep your carbs complex and free of additives, and eat them with lean protein, you won’t gain weight, but will look and feel fabulous. Complex carbs release slowly in the digestive tract when eaten with lean protein, and help promote longer serotonin release as a result. Trust me, try it, and you’ll be happier in no time!
9. Get outside
Whatever you do, try to get outside at least 15 minutes, even if it’s in 10 or 15 minute increments. Exposure to fresh air is one of the best ways to fight off a bad mood. Even if this means raising your window for a few minutes, fresh air does the body good, along with natural sunlight.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is no fun, but you don’t need a pill to cure it. Remember, the natural solutions are always the best. Have you ever had SAD?